Common Redpolls

We were very pleased to have a nice turn out for this month’s Wildlife Walk and even more happy to have so many excellent things for people to see. Heading down the Otter View Park trail our first interesting sighting was a  flock of Ring-billed Gulls which seemed to be migrating south by riding on thermals. We found several American Tree Sparrows lining the hedges along the boardwalk, heard a distant, but very clearly singing Carolina Wren, and on the Otter Creek we spotted a small flock of Canada Geese down river. A neat non-bird sighting  from the end of the boardwalk was a small fish, a young two-inch-long Bullhead, which was rising to the surface to feed.  Two Pine Siskins flashing their very bright yellow wing-bars in the sun from a tree across Pulp Mill Bridge Rd. And finally, a Cooper’s Hawk soared in doing two full slow turns above us giving us a great view of it before it headed back north.

The best sighting of the day came when we arrived at the Hurd Grassland. Feeding on the seeds of Birch trees near the start of the trail, we found a flock of 23 Common Redpolls. Due to the stiff breeze things were very quiet down in the fields,  a passing Piliated Woodpecker being the only real highlight. Gale Hurd’s feeders were more entertaining with good numbers of Finches and Juncos, and a Red-breasted Nuthatch that made repeated hit and run visits to a feeder, grabbing a seed then disappearing from sight to either eat or cache it. Also seen at the feeders were a few Northern Cardinals, one of which had a rather deformed bill. The upper mandible was much shorter than normal and offset to the right, and because of that, the lower mandible had grown to be twisted and elongated due to a lack of normal wear. Despite that the Cardinal seemed otherwise healthy and was seen feeding on hulled sunflower seeds without any apparent problems.

All our bird sightings have been submitted to eBird and the full checklists can be viewed at the following links:
Otter View Park
Hurd Grassland

Our Next walk will take place Thursday  December 13 at 8:00 AM. Meet at the parking area of Otter View Park at the intersection of Weybridge St. and Pulp Mill Bridge Road.

– Ron Payne

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